Netflix is an empowered platform: ‘Lust Stories’ makers

Four Indian filmmakers Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar and Dibakar Banerjee — each known for their unique style — have come together for the anthology “Lust Stories”, which will be out on Netflix next month. They are happy to associate with an “empowered platform”, which allows their creativity to be showcased far and wide.

At the trailer launch of “Lust Stories” here on Friday, when asked if Netflix has given them extra freedom as there is no censorship on digital media, Karan said: “Look, we are not showing the film on Netflix because there is a lot of freedom (in terms of censorship). We are showing the film because of its reach.

“Netflix reaches 190 countries. For a filmmaker and storyteller, it is important to reach out to the widest audience with our story. There is no scene in the film that might get censored…Netflix is an empowered platform with a worldwide popularity.”

Karan’s short film features Vicky Kaushal, Kiara Advani and Neha Dhupia.

Ronnie Screwvala, one of the producers of the film, said: “Netflix is a global platform. We have been trying to do crossover cinema for 100 years, and now people will get a chance to do crossover cinema. Now we have an audience (through Netflix) that caters to a wider audience, not just to the South Asian (audience), but all over. That is a great opportunity.”

How are they planning to reach out to rural India where people may not necessarily have access to mobile phones, Screwvala said: “If we are talking about rural India, of course, it will take time to reach. But when we look at the footfall and box office collection, 60 per cent of it comes from metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

“That is why there is more scope for the digital platforms to reach out to these urban pockets than cinema halls. The idea is not one versus the other… The approach is more inclusive.”

Actress Bhumi Pednekar, who features in Zoya’s short story, said: “As actors and filmmakers, we want our stories to reach as many people as possible, and Netflix is one of such platforms. I think the digital audience is braver and more accepting towards new content. They are looking for new stories.”

Asked if practising freedom of expression is easier on a digital platform, Zoya said: “Yes and no… I mean there is not something we are showing in the film that cannot be shown otherwise.”

Talking about the given freedom on a digital platform for the filmmakers and viewers, Dibakar said: “You see, as filmmakers we will find our way even within the limited freedom we are given. But this platform has given freedom to the audience.

“I believe that freedom is about having a choice. If we do not have the choice, then freedom is a theoretical discussion. So I think with this platform, the audience should have the choice to experience an intimate experience with few people or with oneself… So this platform provides more freedom to the audience than filmmakers.”

The film “Lust Stories” will release on June 15.

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